IMHO “The Family Guy”: “Family Gay”

Last night The Family Guy‘s Peter Griffin turned gay in an episode that I warned you about last week. While I usually enjoy irreverent comedy, including equal-opportunity offenders like Family Guy, this one was full of missed opportunities, too often going for the tired cliche and turning to stereotypes without subverting them.

Watch out for SPOILERS below if you want the details of why I’m giving this one the down arrow, or skip right to the bottom to watch the full episode for yourself.

After cringing at the stereotypes on display in the preview, I tried to think of scenarios where there could be more to Peter’s turning gay than just limp wrists, “gay” clothes and speaking in a higher pitch. Perhaps it’d turn out that Peter was reacting to a placebo, making a fool of himself (again) by acting the way he thinks he should behave if he were gay.

Unfortunately, the episode is just about Peter picking up plenty of stereotypical gay traits after being injected with the “gay gene”. He starts eating continental breakfast with mimosas, develops a flair for baking, starts giving Lois fashion advice and reads trashy VC Andrews novels.

Peter introduces his new soulmate, Scott

I’m not opposed to using stereotypes in humor, but you’ve got to do something interesting with the stereotypes to make me laugh. Unfortunately, all “Family Gay” did was pack in as many as it could. In some cases, like when we see Peter and his new boyfriend cuddling over a Lifetime “woman in jeopardy” film, the stereotypes are pretty stale, too. I mean, it’s pretty old to joke about Bravo owning the gay TV crown, so a joke about gays watching Lifetime is about as edgy as the rock stylings of Hansen.

There were moments where I hoped the story would find its voice. At one point I thought maybe Peter’s new aptitude for style would take Lois down the path of the “gay BFF” stereotype. When Brian and Stewie kidnap Peter and take him to “Straight Camp,” I thought the episode might turn into a parody of ex-gay ministries. (Shouldn’t Brian be smarter than to believe that you can “cure” gayness though therapy?) Instead, all they led to even more stereotypes, including a joke from the (NY Post cartoonist) Sean Delonas playbook that “all gays move the same”.

Family Guy‘s limp wrists and Delonas’ prancing gay men

I mean, the therapy at Straight Camp includes the councilor pushing the participants to commit a hate crime, shouldn’t a joke like that have a little teeth to it like when South Park targeted ex-gay ministries, instead of leading to yet another joke about kinky sex?

This is the kind of episode that leaves me thinking “Family Guy has been funny in the past, right?” Overall, there’s a message of tolerance at the heart of the episode, but the chance to reinforce that message with some sharp humor is skipped in favor of more stale gay jokes.

If you missed it you can check out the episode below. What do you think? Am I taking this one a little too seriously? Is Family Guy capable of delving into the topic with more than just the stereotypes paraded in “Family Gay”?

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